***All photography by Kirsten Cohen***
By: Dawn Duncan
The Velveteers are one of the fastest-rising, hippest acts around. The duo have seemingly exploded onto the Colorado rock scene in the past two years, quickly escalating from playing small shows around Boulder and Denver to expanding their market rapidly and going on national and international tours. The accolade they are receiving isn’t hype. This band is the real deal and they play raw, edgy, gritty shows full of personality and a passionate love for music, with songs that remind you of classic horror movies mixed with grinding, distorted guitar riffs. It’s a punk-meets-throwback rock sound and it’s truly unique in the sea of today’s bands.
Beyond the music, this act exudes innate style, confidence, and a sense of knowing who they are. With wild hair, retro style, and a rock vibe that is a bit like Robert Plant and Janis Joplin gone modern, The Velveteers know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to showcasing an image that matches their music. I recently spoke with front woman, Demi Demitro, about the band and their current and upcoming happenings and slightly about cats.
Scene: Tell us about how your band got its start and the evolution of The Velveteers.
Demitro: We played our very first show on November 15th, 2014 in Denver in a DIY basement venue (almost two years ago this coming month). I am influenced by lots of music; everything from Black Sabbath to Dolly Parton. This is my very first band that I’ve ever been in, but I’ve been playing music and writing my whole life. One day I was in a coffee shop and reading a poetry book and I had been looking for a band name for about six months. I had a list of about 800 or more. I then came across the word “Velveteer.” I really liked how it sounded and that it didn’t have a specific meaning and that way we could put our own meaning to the word.
Scene: What have been the most significant gigs or opportunities your band has had thus far?
Demitro: We recently got to go on our very first tour. We got to go with a national act called Deap Vally over to the UK. It was incredible getting to play night after night to sold out theaters and making new fans in a different country. It was also our first time playing in theaters so it was a little scary at first. I think every show we get to play is a big opportunity though. Even if it’s to four people in a DIY venue or 2,000 in a European theater, I love every second of it.
Scene: Have you recorded music/an album/an EP?
Demitro: We just released our debut single (“Death Hex”) back in September before we left for tour. We also have an EP that is coming hopefully in early 2017. It’s all done, but everything takes time. Not to0 much more I can say, but we are very excited to release more music.
Scene: Are you a DIY band right now or have you enlisted a manager or professionals to help you?
Demitro: We just recently got management actually; Shane Vetter who works at 7S Entertainment and Belly Up Aspen. Even though we have management now and have had some bigger opportunities, we still love Colorado DIY venues and play them often. I think the DIY venues are some of the coolest venues that exist and are extremely important.
Scene: How did you learn to play music? What instruments do you play and where have you honed your craft?
Demitro: I grew up in a musical family, but nothing was ever forced on me. I sing and play guitar. I grew up playing piano also. Music was always something I just did; I never had to think twice. I learned guitar by myself, but was always getting pointers here and there from my brother and other mentors whom I respected in the music scene. I remember when I first started to play about two years ago, I never came out of my room. I’d practice for about eight-nine hours every day. I still do; I just love playing so much.
Scene: What challenges have you been able to overcome so far as a band?
Demitro: There honestly hasn’t been anything bad. In the beginning when I was trying to start the band it was really hard to find nice people who actually cared and wanted to take it seriously. It’s a lot more than just showing up and playing your instrument. It takes a lot of commitment. But I think mistakes are always really good because they can teach you so much. How can you learn anything if you don’t make mistakes?
Scene: What do you sing about? Tell us about some of the themes in your music.
Demitro: That is for the listener to decide. A lot of our songs have hidden meanings, and if you listen really closely maybe you can solve the riddles! I’m actually very inspired by Brothers Grimm story tales and a lot of our songs are inspired by them. The stories are very dark.
Scene: What is your writing process? Do you set aside time to write, or do you find that music, lyrics are always “coming to you” at any random time?
Demitro: I’ve always just written songs unknowingly. I work every single day and not a day goes by where I’m not excited to get up and write. Sometimes things just come to you and other times you have to force yourself. I’m kind of addicted to writing songs and poetry. My house is starting to overflow with books and papers just filled with lyrics; I really need some sort of cabinet to keep track of them all.
Scene: How has your music changed/evolved?
Demitro: We are always trying to find ways to change but with somewhat staying in the same vein. We don’t want to repeat ourselves.
Scene: What do you want people to feel when they hear The Velveteers’ music?
Demitro: If we can make people feel anything — love or hate it — that’s what we want. Just feel something. I don’t think all music has to have some sort of really important worldly message. Don’t get me wrong, that’s great! But sometimes people just want to listen to something they can zone out to and forget about the terrible things happening in the world. The beautiful thing about art is that you can make whatever you want and it’s always going to mean or feel different to every single person.
Scene: What plans do you have for 2017?
Demitro: More touring and lots more music!! Stay tuned…..
And now, a random question for Demi, as we know this is truly what you want to find out:
Scene: Do you like cats? If you do like cats, what kinds are your favorite and do you think cats like your music? Do you have a cat?
Demitro: I do like cats, but I’m also allergic. One time my friend’s cat attacked me and it was scary. It was an evil cat and would watch me while I slept. I have two really cute dogs though. They are Old English Sheepdogs and extremely fluffy.
And, with that…enjoy….